What’s your “Return on Investment” in Story City?
—by Mark Jackson, City Administrator, Story City
In August’s on-line City Briefing (figures are shown below), I shared with you “How we Compare” to other cities on our tax levy rate and on your utility bill. The revenue side of the ledger. A pretty great deal when you compare Story City to others. I understand we live in an era of “my taxes are too high” yet can’t agree on what services government should provide or what services should be cut. I guess it depends on what services each individual receives. I understand we want less government involvement; until of course it directly impacts us.
Nevertheless, in the private sector, when you pay for something you get something in return. That’s easy to measure. But, what’s the return on your “investment” in Story City?
When I went to the bathroom one morning, I didn’t think anything after flushing the toilet that it would be sent to the city’s wastewater treatment plant where it would be treated per requirements of the Clean Water Act and discharged to the river. I turned on the water faucet in the kitchen to make coffee and didn’t have to worry that it wouldn’t be safe to drink. That’s because of the city’s water treatment plant and the Safe Drinking Water Act that insures that our city water is clean.
I went over to the fitness center where a number of individuals were walking on a treadmill, climbing a stair stepper (me), or working out in a fitness class. With an increase in obesity rates and unhealthy living it’s great that Story City can provide a facility in partnership with Mary Greeley Medical Center that helps us have a healthy lifestyle. As a side benefit, it also serves as a community center where moms at 5:30 a.m. in the morning can work out together and then catch up afterwards on the kids’ activities or the elderly gentlemen lined up on the tread mill can provide their opinions on world, national, state, and local events.
As I sat in my office, across from the Bertha Bartlett Public Library, I noticed many of you going in to either check out a book (yes, many of us still like to hold and read from a book), use the computer, or participate in one of their programs. When my children were younger they swam at the pool and participated in our recreation programs.
When I drive around town checking on things, I noticed our streets are pretty good; not perfect or ideal, but as a former neighbor of mine once said, “better than most” or that when it snows the streets are plowed although I’m not sure where one can go because our streets are plowed before the Interstate and Highway 69.
As Roger Auestad once said, “have you ever seen a prettier entrance into a community than Story City?” Great question. The first time I drove into Story City, I noticed the golf course, the North and South Parks, the Carousel, and the pool. As I come into the entrance of many other communities I’ve concluded that Roger is right – there is no “prettier” entrance.
I can look east and I can look west and see the many companies that have been recruited to or expanded in our community. They provide good paying jobs too many of our residents and to those from surrounding communities.
We can’t do it alone so we have many great partners – the electric department, EDC, GCC, Historical Society, Trees Forever, Story Telling Festival, and the school.
Finally, after a very long day when I go to bed (or fall asleep in a chair), I know we live in a safe community where the police, fire, and first responders are there to protect and keep us safe.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. So, what is your “Return on Investment” in Story City? It’s difficult to measure in dollars and cents; so I’ll narrow it down to three:
Financial – Story City has a sound and solid financial position and, as stated in August’s briefing, is in a pretty great position when it comes to our tax levy rate and utility costs.
Transformational – In the last 20 plus years, the community has built a new library, community recreation center, helped in the construction of new housing, worked to maintain a vibrant downtown, recruited new companies and helped others to expand, offered a number of recreational activities, developed a trail system, constructed Fairview Lodge and renovated a Community Center, and we’ve helped low and moderate income individuals purchase a home or rehab their house. That’s just a few.
As Mayor Jensen often says, “Story City offers a lot for a community our size.”
Reputational – I’ve often heard people refer to Story City as, “like Mayberry,” “idyllic,” and as Jill Wagner often says “utopia.”
We’re not perfect and the community has changed over the years. We certainly have our challenges and we need to continue to work hard and move forward in order to insure that you are getting a “positive return” on your investment.
City Tax Levy Rates – FY 2014-15
Story City $ 9.35
Kelly $ 9.19
Cambridge $ 9.00
Water & Wastewater – Average Monthly Bill
(Water, Sewer, Total)
Huxley, $32.12, $39.97, $72.09
Nevada, $32.32, $23.02, $55.34
Roland, $21.11, $29.89, $51.00
Story City, $29.55, $17.48, $47.03
Ames, $21.34, $23.80, $45.14